See the best photos from the New Orleans Saints offense in their Week 14 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For six quarters up was down, square was round and the Saints’ fastbreak offense was nowhere to be found.
In a 13-10 loss to Dallas and 14-3 halftime deficit against Tampa Bay, the Saints totaled about as many points (13) and yards (280) in that game-and-a-half as they have in several sole fourth quarters this season.
The snapback in the second half against the Buccaneers was along the lines of what has become expected: 25 points (the defense posted a shutout), 194 yards and 4 for 7 on third down in a 28-14, comeback victory that secured the NFC South Division title and helped New Orleans regain the top seed in the NFC.
That’s the offense, and production, the Saints (11-2) hope they’ve reestablished entering Monday’s game against Carolina (6-7) at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
“Yes, we cranked it up a little bit,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “The bottom line is, each and every game’s the same, in regards to establish tempo, take control of the game, get drives going, (and) score points. That's how you build momentum and gain confidence.”
The Saints (11-2) had precious little of one, or the other, or both during their worst six-quarter offensive stretch of the season.
“We got away from our stuff,” Brees said. “We were not doing our stuff. We were not playing with our tempo. We weren't playing with our sense of urgency. I think that was the cause of that and when we realized that we snapped back into the order.”
Assists were supplied by the defense and special teams.
Defensively, the Saints stonewalled Dallas (seven sacks, two fumble recoveries) and kept turning back the Buccaneers. Against Tampa Bay, a couple of stops preceded missed field goal attempts from 46 and 40 yards, and other stops kept Tampa Bay punter Bryan Anger busy, with six punt attempts.
“Attempts” is the key word; backup quarterback Taysom Hill blocked one attempt in the third quarter, and the Saints’ offense cashed in on the field position with a 30-yard touchdown drive. New Orleans had four consecutive scoring drives (three touchdowns and a field goal) and didn’t punt again in the game.
“It was important for us to get our mojo going, get our momentum going, and get back to doing what we do playing our kind of football,” running back Mark Ingram said. “So we had a rough stretch there and football is not perfect. It’s not a perfect game. Everything is not going to be perfect. Everything's not going to be scripted exactly how you want to be."
“So, our defense and our special teams have been able to keep us in games and give us a chance to win versus Dallas, and give us a chance to be able to come back and go on our run in the second half to build a comeback and win the game on the road. So I think it was huge for us just to get our momentum going, get our confidence back and build on it going forward.”
It’s a positive to carry forward as the Saints move away from that brief, recent past.
“I just don't feel we got into a rhythm,” Ingram said. “I don’t feel like we got into a flow. It wasn't ideal for us, how we wanted to play the game and how we want to go about scoring points and winning football games. So it was a struggle, man."
“Everything’s not always perfect. Everything doesn't happen how you want it to. And we were able to go in at half and make some adjustments and give ourselves a little gut check and go out and be able to come back and win a game. So it just shows resilience of a team that when everything’s not going perfect, everything's not going right, to be able to fight through it and find a way to get a win.”